The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Monday, November 30, 2009

The Narrative

Foaud Ajami reports that among the Arab Muslim intelligencia and on the Arab street, Barack Obama has come down to earth. Like many in the United States who embraced the myth of our new President, Arabs projected their own perceptions of “hope and change” onto candidate Obama. Today, there is growing disappointment in the man and his limited accomplishments to date. Worse, the anti-American narrative that is common throughout the Muslim world remains as strong as ever.

Ajami writes:
He [President Obama] has not made the world anew, history did not bend to his will, the Indians and Pakistanis have been told that the matter of Kashmir is theirs to resolve, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the same intractable clash of two irreconcilable nationalisms, and the theocrats in Iran have not "unclenched their fist," nor have they abandoned their nuclear quest.

There is little Mr. Obama can do about this disenchantment. He can't journey to Turkey to tell its Islamist leaders and political class that a decade of anti-American scapegoating is all forgiven and was the product of American policies—he has already done that. He can't journey to Cairo to tell the fabled "Arab street" that the Iraq war was a wasted war of choice, and that America earned the malice that came its way from Arab lands—he has already done that as well. He can't tell Muslims that America is not at war with Islam—he, like his predecessor, has said that time and again.

It was the norm for American liberalism during the Bush years to brandish the Pew Global Attitudes survey that told of America's decline in the eyes of foreign nations. Foreigners were saying what the liberals wanted said.

Now those surveys of 2009 bring findings from the world of Islam that confirm that the animus toward America has not been radically changed by the ascendancy of Mr. Obama. In the Palestinian territories, 15% have a favorable view of the U.S. while 82% have an unfavorable view. The Obama speech in Ankara didn't seem to help in Turkey, where the favorables are 14% and those unreconciled, 69%. In Egypt, a country that's reaped nearly 40 years of American aid, things stayed roughly the same: 27% have a favorable view of the U.S. while 70% do not. In Pakistan, a place of great consequence for American power, our standing has deteriorated: The unfavorables rose from 63% in 2008 to 68% this year.

Of course, those on the Left and the MSM suggest that the hated George W. Bush did so much damage to our international image that it will take years to repair. Then why, after a year of soft power, are the “unfavorables” the same or rising?

The reality is that those in other countries, like citizens in ours, will accept idealistic speeches at first, but ultimately, actions, decisions, and accomplishments are what matter. In Obama's first year on the job, words have flowed, but accomplishments are sparse indeed,

But there’s more to it than that. Anti-Americanism is a staple in the Arab world. Tom Friedman notes this when he writes about an anti-American narrative that is endemic in the Muslim world:
It [the narrative] is working. As a Jordanian-born counterterrorism expert, who asked to remain anonymous, said to me: “This narrative is now omnipresent in Arab and Muslim communities in the region and in migrant communities around the world. These communities are bombarded with this narrative in huge doses and on a daily basis. [It says] the West, and right now mostly the U.S. and Israel, is single-handedly and completely responsible for all the grievances of the Arab and the Muslim worlds. Ironically, the vast majority of the media outlets targeting these communities are Arab-government owned — mostly from the Gulf.”

This narrative suits Arab governments. It allows them to deflect onto America all of their people’s grievances over why their countries are falling behind. And it suits Al Qaeda, which doesn’t need much organization anymore — just push out The Narrative over the Web and satellite TV, let it heat up humiliated, frustrated or socially alienated Muslim males, and one or two will open fire on their own. See: Major Hasan.

The narrative will not be assuaged with our President’s naïve apologies on the international stage. It will not be overcome because our President is a smart and likeable fellow. In fact, Obama’s words and actions during the past year may strengthen the anti-American narrative, and as a consequence, set the stage for something that neither he, nor the vast majority of the Muslim world, wants.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


As I follow the breaking scandal that has already become known as “climategate,” I can’t help but think back to a lab course I had when I was still an undergraduate. On the first day of the course, the instructor warned us not to “massage” the data to make it correspond to what we knew were the proven laws of physics. “Data are sloppy” he said, “not every data point will fit. Report what you measure, nothing more, nothing less.”

It appears that an influential group of paleoclimatologists at the Hadley Climatic Research Unit at Britain's University of East Anglia should have heeded my lab instructor’s advice. Instead, they “massaged” their data to make it conform to their prejudices about climate change, publishing papers that drew conclusions that were less than honest. Worse, they worked to suppress the publications of serious researchers who tried to present opposing views and interpretations. They even went so far as to destroy information rather than allowing other scientists to examine it. All in order to reinforce the contention (popularly voiced by Al Gore) that anthropogenic global warming is beyond debate. It isn’t.

Robert Tracinski writes:
The picture that emerges is simple. In any discussion of global warming, either in the scientific literature or in the mainstream media, the outcome is always predetermined. Just as the temperature graphs produced by the CRU are always tricked out to show an upward-sloping "hockey stick," every discussion of global warming has to show that it is occurring and that humans are responsible. And any data or any scientific paper that tends to disprove that conclusion is smeared as "unscientific" precisely because it threatens the established dogma.

For more than a decade, we've been told that there is a scientific "consensus" that humans are causing global warming, that "the debate is over" and all "legitimate" scientists acknowledge the truth of global warming. Now we know what this "consensus" really means. What it means is: the fix is in.

And now, climategate poses an “egg on your face” moment for the true believers. So what do they do? Ignore the evidence of fraud and hope that the whole thing will blow over. provides interesting insight into this strategy. Of the major broadcast and cable networks, only FoxNews has run stories about climategate. To date, there has been no mention of the event or its consequences at ABC, CBS, NBC, NPR, CNN, and MSNBC. Why is this? Is the Left-leaning media so invested in the climate change meme that it can’t bear to examine the possibility that it may not yet be settled science.

Early next year, President Obama and the Congress will propose energy legislation that will seek to impose massive new taxes on CO2 emissions. But what if CO2 data presented by Al Gore and company was developed using methods that were (to be generous) less than scientific. What if CO2 isn’t the problem that we think it is? What if our fears about global warming are overblown or misplaced? What if the scientists who were maligned as “deniers” are in fact the only honest brokers in the room?

No matter. There is to be no scientific debate. After all, the science is settled. Just ask Barack Obama, Al Gore and ABC, CBS, NBC, NPR, CNN, and MSNBC.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Balloon Payments

Among the many reasons for the recent financial collapse was debt—excessive, crushing debt. Think of it at a personal level, you’re offered a mortgage that’s twice a large as you can afford, but you’re also offered an initial “teaser” interest rate that makes your monthly payments affordable. In the small print there's a note that says interest rates will balloon in the future, but heck, that’s the future, so no worries.

It’s ironic that the same thing is happening with the federal government, but our super smart President and his large congressional majority seem unable or unwilling to see it. Right now, interest rates are at historic lows, so our debt payments are very high, but manageable. But those lows cannot and will not last too much longer, and then interest payments on the national debt will balloon. The New York Times reports:
Even as Treasury officials are racing to lock in today’s low rates by exchanging short-term borrowings for long-term bonds, the government faces a payment shock similar to those that sent legions of overstretched homeowners into default on their mortgages.

With the national debt now topping $12 trillion, the White House estimates that the government’s tab for servicing the debt will exceed $700 billion a year in 2019, up from $202 billion this year, even if annual budget deficits shrink drastically. Other forecasters say the figure could be much higher.

In concrete terms, an additional $500 billion a year in interest expense would total more than the combined federal budgets this year for education, energy, homeland security and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The potential for rapidly escalating interest payouts is just one of the wrenching challenges facing the United States after decades of living beyond its means.

Most responsible adults, if faced with crushing debt, would try hard, very hard, to cut expenses. We’d also try hard not to add to our already overburdened debt load. That doesn’t require a Harvard degree, it's simply common sense, a.k.a. responsible fiscal behavior.

But President Obama and the congressional majority feel compelled to force a major new entitlement on an already overburdened national balance sheet. All of the dishonest budget manipulation available to the Congress can’t hide the fact that current health care legislation will add trillions of dollars in debt over the next few decades and set the stage for enormous, possibly intractable problems later.

But the President and the Congress simply don’t care. Like spoiled children who want what they want regardless of the costs or consequences, they embrace their delusional view of future costs. After all, bankrupting the country is a small price to pay for their warped version of “social justice.”

Friday, November 20, 2009

Soft Power

Our pathetic attempts at controlling nuclear weapons development in Iran continue as (to quote the AP): “The United States and five other world powers … meet Friday in Brussels to discuss what measures can be taken to punish Tehran for its refusal to halt its nuclear enrichment program.”

The West has been all too happy to adopt President Obama’s “soft power” approach. As I predicted month’s ago, it has been an abject failure. Obama’s naive attempts at detente impressed his fans on the Left, but have done nothing but project an image of weakness. Europe, amazingly, has now taken a harder line than our President and has recently prodded Obama to use more harsh language with the Mullahs.

But harsh words don’t much impress the bad actors in Tehran, unless they’re backed up by a credible threat of force. The Mullahs know, to an absolute certainty, that force is now off the table. So words—even harsh words—mean little.

It’s pretty easy to predict what will happen next. The big powers will craft some “soft power” punishment (e.g., new UN resolutions, sanctions, a trade moratorium) and just before they’re set to go into effect, Tehran will make a small conciliatory gesture that will put them on hold. Negotiating theater will start anew, but real progress will never occur.

It appears that the Western powers and our President eschew controlled violence in the short term, but are perfectly willing to risk the catastrophic violence of nuclear weapons, as long as it’s well down the road. As a consequence, the winds of war are freshening in the Middle-East.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Wrong Side of History

Nicholas Kristof uses a wide array of quotes from the 1930s and 1960s to suggest that opponents of current healthcare legislation are “on the wrong side of history.” He writes:
It’s now broadly apparent that those who opposed Social Security in 1935 and Medicare in 1965 were wrong in their fears and tried to obstruct a historical tide. This year, the fate of health care will come down to a handful of members of Congress, including Senators Joe Lieberman, Blanche Lincoln, Ben Nelson and Mary Landrieu. If they flinch and health reform fails, they’ll be letting down their country at a crucial juncture. They’ll be on the wrong side of history.

Mr. Kristof doesn’t seem to understand that “history” is a continuum. Over the history of its existence, the social security program has morphed from a simple method for helping seniors in the very last years of their lives (when enacted, only a relatively small percentage of seniors lived past the age of 65) to a full blown welfare program that provides seniors (many of whom do not need assistance) with COLAs and many other unforeseen benefits for 10, 20 or 30 years, paid for by an increasingly shrinking percentage of young people.

Medicare has become a bloated, often corrupt, and vastly expensive system that cannot sustain itself much beyond the next 10 years, again, paid for by an increasingly shrinking percentage of young people.

Both social security and Medicare are huge unfunded entitlements that are becoming an increasingly larger percentage of our federal budget. At some point, these Ponzi schemes will collapse and the coming generation will be left holding the bag.

Mr. Kristof believes that these two federal programs are exemplars for the new government controlled healthcare system that President Obama and the Congressional majority insist on forcing on us. If that’s the case, we’ll be on a side of history that is deficit ridden, inefficient, overly-bureaucratic, and ultimately, far less effective than the current ‘in-need-of-reform’ healthcare system. If that is what is in store for all of us, I’m perfectly comfortable being on the wrong side of history.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

OJ and KSM

O.J. Simpson … remember him? OJ was a U.S. citizen, a football star, and a celebrity. He was alleged to have murdered his ex-wife and her lover, but procedural maneuvers in a California courtroom by an all star legal team, coupled with an incompetent prosecution, an idiot judge, and a biased jury led to his acquittal. Most objective observers were surprised.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM) … remember him? He is not a U.S. citizen or a football star, but he is a celebrity of sorts to some on the extreme Left and a superstar among Islamic Jihadists worldwide. He’s also an international terrorist and self-professed mastermind of the 9/11 attacks.

Attorney General Eric Holder has decided to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (as well as some of his compatriots) as a common criminal in a New York courtroom. One has to assume that KSM will be given all the protections of a U.S. citizen, including the protection of evidentiary procedure. Thomas Sowell comments on this:
In the string of amazing decisions made during the first year of the Obama administration, nothing seems more like sheer insanity than the decision to try foreign terrorists, who have committed acts of war against the United States, in federal court, as if they were American citizens accused of crimes.

Terrorists are not even entitled to the protection of the Geneva Convention, much less the Constitution of the United States. Terrorists have never observed, nor even claimed to have observed, the Geneva Convention, nor are they among those covered by it.

But over and above the utter inconsistency of what is being done is the utter recklessness it represents. The last time an attack on the World Trade Center was treated as a matter of domestic criminal justice was after a bomb was exploded there in 1993. Under the rules of American criminal law, the prosecution had to turn over all sorts of information to the defense-- information that told the Al Qaeda international terrorist network what we knew about them and how we knew it.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed should be tried by a military tribunal as a prisoner of war. Oh, sorry, I forgot. The war on terror is over, in fact, within the Obama administration the phrase cannot be uttered. And besides, there’s international opinion that must be considered. We so much want them all to like us, don’t we?

But what if the KSM trial turns into the O.J. trial. It can’t, you argue, and you’re probably right. But there’s a small possibility that things will go south during the trial. That an expert defense team—and make no mistake, competent Leftist lawyers are already lining up to defend KSM—will turn the trial into a circus, an indictment of the U.S., and in the worst case, achieve a verdict that is unsatisfactory to those of us who want to see this mass murdering terrorist dead.

Ronald Cass asks a few questions that Holder (and the Obama administration) better be able to answer:
Most public attention now will focus on whether Mr. Holder made the right choice. But that isn't the only question people concerned with how our government works should be asking.

The other question is what if Mr. Holder has guessed wrong? What if challenges to the way evidence was obtained result in exclusion of enough material that KSM is acquitted? What if discovery rules for federal criminal trials again result in disclosure of sensitive information - ending up in the hands of our enemies - on how we gather information and who provides it? What if that facilitates another attack with more lives lost?

Why did the Obama administration feel compelled to try KSM in a U.S. courtroom? Is the decision an example of still more moral preening? Do they really think that the military is incapable of conducting a “fair” trial? Do they truly expect that the “international community” will somehow take heart from this exercise? Do they honestly believe that a show trial will somehow make Islam like us more?

I worry that they fervently believe those things and that makes them childishly naïve. But then again, that’s no surprise.

Monday, November 16, 2009


Over the years, I’ve written often about a distressing characteristic that is exhibited by many ideologues on both the Left and the Right. I call it “moral preening.”

On the Right, activists who espouse “right to life” and “family values” agendas use their version of morality as a justification for imposing their world-view on others. On the Left, those who espouse “social justice” and “anti-war” (as if everyone wasn’t anti-war) agendas using their version of morality to impose their world-view on others.

At the moment, moral preening is being exhibited by those on the Left who are supporting the current version of the House’s health care reform legislation. Taking what they believe to be the moral high ground, they argue that all Americans have the right to health insurance and that this right must be achieved no matter the cost to our country over the long term.

Robert Samuelson comments:
The campaign to pass Obama's health care plan has assumed a false, though understandable, cloak of moral superiority. It's understandable because almost everyone thinks that people in need of essential medical care should get it; ideally, everyone would have health insurance. The pursuit of these worthy goals can easily be projected as a high-minded exercise for the public good.

It's false for two reasons. First, the country has other goals -- including preventing future financial crises and minimizing the crushing effects of high deficits or taxes on the economy and younger Americans -- that "health care reform" would jeopardize. And second, the benefits of "reform" are exaggerated. Sure, many Americans would feel less fearful about losing insurance; but there are cheaper ways to limit insecurity. Meanwhile, improvements in health for today's uninsured would be modest. They already receive substantial medical care. Insurance would help some individuals enormously, but studies find that, on average, gains are moderate. Despite using more health services, people don't automatically become healthier.

The pretense of moral superiority further erodes before all the expedient deceptions used to sell Obama's health care agenda. The president says he won't sign legislation that adds to the deficit. One way to accomplish this is to put costs outside the legislation. So: Doctors have long complained that their Medicare reimbursements are too low; the fix for replacing the present formula would cost $210 billion over a decade, estimates the Congressional Budget Office. That cost was originally in the "health reform" legislation. Now, it's been moved to another bill, but because there's no means to pay for it (higher taxes or spending cuts), deficits would increase.

If the Left and President Obama really do believe that everyone has the right to equivalent health insurance coverage, the least they can do is tell the truth. Tell us the real costs; (2) explain the impact on all of us who pay taxes (that, by the way, does not include everyone who will be covered by the health legislation); (3) describe the long term impact of increasing budget deficits on our economy, our employment numbers, and the young people who will be asked to carry of the burden over the long term; and (3) project the impact of enormous, unsustainable deficits on the value of the dollar, imports and exports, and our economic standing throughout the world.

But doing that makes our President uncomfortable. He, like most on the Left, cloaks himself in moral superiority, so blinded by his social justice ideology that he cannot or will not face the enormous costs associated with what has been proposed. Instead he accuses those who question the wisdom of major new entitlements and their impact on our future as somehow morally bankrupt. It’s a meme that's common among those who morally preen. But you know what, I’m perfectly willing to be accused of being morally bankrupt if my voice and the voice of millions of others stop these callous children from driving us into a bankruptcy of another kind.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


As media coverage of Major Nidal Malik Hasan continues to unfold, it’s fascinating to observe how the majority of mainstream media continue to present Hasan in a quasi-sympathetic light. Consider this excerpt from an article entitled “The Fort Hood Killer: Terrified or Terrorist” in this week’s edition of Time Magazine:
Hasan was a walking contradiction: the counselor who himself needed counseling; the proud soldier who did not want to fight, at least not against fellow Muslims; the man who could not find a sufficiently modest and pious wife through his mosque's matchmaking machinery but who frequented the local strip club. A man supposedly so afraid of deployment that he launched a war of his own from which he clearly did not expect to return alive. "Everyone is asking why this happened," said Hasan's family in a formal statement, "and the answer is that we simply do not know."

Tens of millions of Americans do know.

We have not “jumped to conclusions” but rather have examined the reported evidence and past history and find absolutely nothing sympathetic or exculpatory about Hasan’s Jihadist rampage. We care little about his contradictions or his need for counseling. We do not view him as a “proud soldier”—a characterization so insulting to our military that it’s breathtaking.

Because it’s becoming increasingly difficult to stick to the “deranged victim” meme, the left-leaning MSM has begun to modify its story. Among the more ‘edgy’ MSM commentators, Hasan is being characterized as a “homegrown Jihadist.”

But there’s a subtle critique of the United States in this characterization. Somehow, they imply, we’ve created these murderous thugs through our actions, and we’re responsible for the mayhem they cause. If we had just been more understanding (as they killed 3,000 of our citizens on 9/11); if we’d just used negotiation rather than force (as the Taliban raped and murdered woman while at the same time giving refuge to al Qaida), if we had just, well, decided to be Dhimmi, everything would have been okay. It fits perfectly with the Left’s insistence that, as the Reverend Jeremiah Wright (remember him?) might say, “the chickens have come home to roost.”

Hasan was not “homegrown” in the sense that the MSM wants us to believe. He willingly adopted a radical Islamist ideology that has become a virus infecting the fringes of Islamic life in this country. Moslem-Americans need to eradicate it, and to date, they have failed. We need to insist that they try harder.

But while this happens, the MSM and government spokespeople continue to force politically correct nonsense down our throats, justified it by suggesting that they don’t want to encourage violence against Moslems. What violence? The citizens of the United States—to their credit—have shown enormous restraint and understanding. They have not threatened Mosques, have not injured or killed Moslems, and have never, ever, committed the acts that are perpetrated regularly against the “infidel” in Islamic countries. Don’t believe me? Ask a Coptic Christian in Egypt.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Petulant Children

It would be unfair to place the blame for our economic collapse on the overwhelming democratic majority in congress or the Obama administration. Our distressed economy was caused by years of irresponsibility and greed at personal, corporate, and governmental levels.

Having said that, it’s frightening to watch as the democratic majority in congress, cheered on by President Obama, propose legislation that may very well deepen our economic woes and weaken our country over the long term. When times are difficult (and these times are difficult), we need adults in charge. What we’ve gotten are petulant children who have allowed ideology to trump common sense.

John Stossel discusses this in the context of healthcare legislation:
As an American, I am embarrassed that the U.S. House of Representatives has 220 members who actually believe the government can successfully centrally plan the medical and insurance industries.

I'm embarrassed that my representatives think that government can subsidize the consumption of medical care without increasing the budget deficit or interfering with free choice.

It's a triumph of mindless wishful thinking over logic and experience.

The 1,990-page bill is breathtaking in its bone-headed audacity. The notion that a small group of politicians can know enough to design something so complex and so personal is astounding. That they were advised by "experts" means nothing since no one is expert enough to do that. There are too many tradeoffs faced by unique individuals with infinitely varying needs.

I have little hope that the bill that comes out of the senate and the one that is negotiated in conference committee will be a substantial improvement over the house bill.

Sadly, the final legislation will promise what it can’t deliver—lower costs, broader coverage, better efficiency—and the President will sign it. If he’s as smart as his supporters claim, he’ll know that these promises are bogus, but he’ll sign it anyway.

What we’ll get is higher taxes (exactly the wrong thing to do in a bad economy) to offset higher costs, restrictions in coverage (a.k.a. rationed care) to allow an already overburdened health care system to accommodate tens of millions of new customers, and less efficiency reflected in disincentives for innovation, and longer waits for treatment. It’s the kind of reform that only the delusional could embrace.

Camille Paglia is brutally accurate when she writes: “It's as if liberals are starry-eyed dreamers lacking the elementary ability to project or predict the chaotic and destabilizing practical consequences of their utopian fantasies.”

Stossel argues that these "starry-eyed dreamers" have refused to provide specific answers to a set of fundamental questions:
1) How can the government subsidize the purchase of medical services without driving up prices? Econ 101 teaches -- without controversy -- that when demand goes up, if other things remain equal, price goes up. The politicians want to have their cake and eat it, too.

2) How can the government promise lower medical costs without restricting choices? Medicare already does that. Once the planners' mandatory insurance pushes prices to new heights, they must put even tougher limits on what we may buy -- or their budget will be even deeper in the red than it already is …

3) How does government "create choice" by imposing uniformity on insurers? Uniformity limits choice. Under House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's bill and the Senate versions, government would dictate to all insurers what their "minimum" coverage policy must include. Truly basic high-deductible, low-cost catastrophic policies tailored to individual needs would be forbidden.

4) How does it "create choice" by making insurance companies compete against a privileged government-sponsored program? The so-called government option, let's call it Fannie Med, would have implicit government backing and therefore little market discipline. The resulting environment of conformity and government power is not what I mean by choice and competition …

When you’re a true believer, none of those questions matter.

The problem, of course, is that honest answers to those questions lead those of us who are not nearly as smart as our President to conclude that the current legislation is a recipe for disastrous deficits down the road.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Jumping to Conculsions

In remarks following the tragic events at Fort Hood, President Obama warned us not to “jump to conclusions.” Disregarding his words, many of us did, and it appears that we were not incorrect in our assumptions about the perpetrator.

But in the first days following the murderous events in Texas, many in the MSM, intent on perpetuating the politically correct mime that Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan was a stressed out man who became unhinged, tried mightily to avoid the conclusion that the US army had failed to recognize the presence of an officer with a clear and persistent Jihadist philosophy. They still won't directly address the reasons why that happened.

Debra Saunders comments:
It's astonishing how people have used their political beliefs to recast this murderous rampage to reflect their politics. New York Times columnist Bob Herbert, for example, wrote a column Saturday that focused on the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder suffered by troops who have served three or four tours of duty -- unbothered by the fact that Hasan never served in a war zone.

Gen. George Casey, the Army chief of staff, went on the Sunday television shows to warn against jumping to conclusions on this case. That's his job; he must work to prevent a backlash against Muslims serving their country in the military, often at great personal sacrifice. Let me add that to view all Muslim troops as suspect -- or otherwise attempt to isolate them -- would be to reward Hasan's attack.

That said, soldiers reported hearing Hasan proclaim "Allahu Akbar" -- God is Great -- as he opened fire. The Associated Press has reported that law enforcement had investigated whether he posted pro-suicide-bombing statements online. According to news reports, former co-workers from Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington complained that he would not allow his photograph to be taken with women for group holiday pictures. On Monday, the Washington Post reported on Hasan's association with a Yemeni al-Qaida promoter who hailed Hasan as "a hero" and a "man of conscience who could not bear living the contradiction of being a Muslim and serving in an army that is fighting against his own people."

How could the army have missed these warning signs and not acted against this man? I’ll risk jumping to another conclusion. The fact that Hasan was not separated from the army had more to do with political correctness than a lack of clear and persistent warning signs. Senior officers didn’t want to be accused of “profiling” or “harassing” a Moslem officer. Colleagues didn’t want to be accused of “racism” or “insensitivity.”

They all bowed to the gods of political correctness and as a consequence, stepped through the looking glass—a politically correct place where threats are perceived as “justifiable anger,” where seditious statements are disregarded as “research” or “venting,” where incompetence must be weighed against culturally approved imperatives rather than clearly defined criteria.

Our military is not an appropriate place for the “through the looking glass” world of political correctness. In fact, if we learn anything from the tragic events at Fort Hood, it might be that people who want to do us harm use political correctness as a weapon (think: the flying Imams, among many similar cases). They need to be disarmed.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Poisonous Fruit

I’ve only written one letter to the President of the United States and that was 30 years ago, less about 8 weeks. Thirty years ago today, the Islamist regime that had recently gained control of Iran invaded the American Embassy in Tehran and took well over 400 people hostage. This was a clear violation of international law and an act of war.

Then President Jimmy Carter, in a policy approach that would define his Presidency, did nothing. Well, that’s not really true, he decided that rather than acting, he would talk, and then talk some more to the thugs who ruled Iran.

As the world watched, the Iranians, recognizing a weak, indecisive leader of the United States, jerked Carter around. They mixed ridicule with the occasional concession, all the while laughing at our President's feckless attempts to free the hostages.

I wrote to Carter to suggest that it might be time to act and that if he didn’t, he would become a one-term president (a prediction that turned out to be accurate). But Carter, a "man of peace", hesitated and did nothing of substance. It was, I believe, Carter’s actions over the next year that emboldened Islamists who (correctly) perceived the United States as a paper tiger.

On this dark anniversary, the Los Angeles Times reports:
President Obama today called for a new relationship with Iran in a statement that marked the 30th anniversary of the takeover by Iranian militants of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran.

The seizure of the embassy by radical students marked the beginning of Iran's turn to hard-line policies. Fifty-two Americans were held hostage for 444 days.

"This event helped set the United States and Iran on a path of sustained suspicion, mistrust and confrontation," Obama said in his statement. "I have made it clear that the United States of America wants to move beyond this past, and seeks a relationship with the Islamic Republic of Iran based upon mutual interests and mutual respect."

It’s ironic that at the same time Barack Obama spoke those words, violent demonstrations in Iran were being suppressed by government thugs (not a word from Obama), the Israelis intercepted a 400 ton Iranian arms shipment intended for Hezballah (not a word from Obama, but criticism of Israel for the horror of building houses on Israeli land from his secretary of state), topped off by insults from Iranian supreme leader directed at the United States (little mention in the MSM).

Like Carter before him , Obama clearly does not understand the Middle East or the proper exercise of geopolitical power. His naive “soft power” approach, now applied for almost a year, has accomplished exactly—nothing. In fact, it’s accomplished worse than nothing, because it emboldens our adversaries and worries our allies (buy hey, the Europeans now love us, and that has to count for something).

In June, 2008, during Obama's campaign for the Presidency, I wrote:
Many of my left-of-center friends have adopted a mime suggested by the DNC and mimicked by Barack Obama. They suggest that electing John McCain would effectively result in “Bush’s third term.”

There’s no point in delineating the profound differences between Senator McCain and President Bush, the mime is embedded, and logical argument is fruitless. So, smiling, I often suggest (as I’ve done in this blog) that electing Barack Obama may very well result in Jimmy Carter’s second term.

I’ll admit that some of my left-of-center friends are thrilled at the prospect, conveniently forgetting the disaster that was the Carter Presidency—four years in which Carter’s misguided policies led to economic stagflation, unemployment rates approaching double digits, interest rates above 18 percent (that’s right, 18%), a foreign policy that installed the Ayatollah Komeni and Islamofascism in Iran —a country that was a staunch US ally and is now hurtling toward nuclear weapons.

As each day passes, it looks like we are, in fact, reliving Carter’s second term. What worries me is that President Obama, like Jimmy Carter, is sowing seeds that will bear poisonous fruit.